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Faicuai

1981 IBM PC (515X) kicking some SERIOUS ass !

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I learned 2 months ago from Scali that the original CGA card by IBM had composite video output to connect to TV.

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Oh wow, this is VERY interesting!!!

 

Do you have access to MS-Basic compiler for the 515X or a solid 8088 cross-compiler like CC65?

 

I believe that Open Watcom C/C++ can run on Windows and target DOS/8086.

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Oh wow, this is VERY interesting!!!

 

Do you have access to MS-Basic compiler for the 515X or a solid 8088 cross-compiler like CC65?

Way back in the day I managed to get a ... unofficial... copy of the BASIC compiler. The one thing of note is that its runtime library absolutely sucked. It implemented vanilla BASIC, and that's about it. It may have implemented some form of CHAIN, though with the obvious limitations of trying to chain in another compiled program. But it offered zero graphics or sound capability. Commands like LOCATE didn't even work, if I recall correctly. If it wasn't directly supported by DOS, it probably didn't happen. So as you might imagine, I didn't see much use in it at the time.

 

However, PCJS.org seems to have some copies of ancient PC software, including compiler 2.0.

 

https://www.pcjs.org/disks/pcx86/tools/ibm/basic/compiler/2.00/

Edited by ChildOfCv

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For comparison sake we should be looking at what was actually available in the day rather than what's being done today.

 

I can't recall any games of the early to mid 80s on the PC having decent colour before EGA. And the ST + Amiga put the PC to shame until the '386 came along.

I do remember Leaderboard on the PC having "Looks like he... hit the tree, Jim" half decent samples going through the internal speaker + VGA graphics which would have matched or beat the former two though that was probably just before the likes of Wolf3D and Doom came along.

There were the PC Jr & Tandy circa 1984 but they both sold for ~a grand. IIRC 16 color graphics and sound card. Still pretty weak on a number of levels, the Jr keyboard was inferior to Atari. I seem to remember by 1985 Atari 800XL was going for ~$100 which beat the pants off of the Jr. I do miss my Tandy sometimes, it was almost OK, just a bundle of money to expand. Depends on what you were going to do with your Atari too. If you tried to expand the 800XL the 1050 were $200+ so a two drive system would run you ~$540 and only give you ~260k or storage. Once again, this is 5-6 years later then the Atari 800. I mean I think the original IBM PC only had 64k on the MB and still had a cassette interface! I have one in my basement with a history. Guy who I got it from was a long time IBM employee who did their scanners for grocery store checkouts. I should see if it still boots!

Edited by ricortes

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I learned 2 months ago from Scali that the original CGA card by IBM had composite video output to connect to TV.

 

So are they accomplishing all the multi-colored wizardry in that demo by artifact colors over the composite video connector? How many people actually used their IBM PCs in that way? I never saw a configuration like that BITD.

 

(to clarify: I think artifacting is a totally legit way to create color graphics, I just question how useful/important this truly was amongst IBM PC users of the day).

Edited by FifthPlayer
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There were the PC Jr & Tandy circa 1984 but they both sold for ~a grand. IIRC 16 color graphics and sound card. Still pretty weak on a number of levels, the Jr keyboard was inferior to Atari. I seem to remember by 1985 Atari 800XL was going for ~$100 which beat the pants off of the Jr. I do miss my Tandy sometimes, it was almost OK, just a bundle of money to expand. Depends on what you were going to do with your Atari too. If you tried to expand the 800XL the 1050 were $200+ so a two drive system would run you ~$540 and only give you ~260k or storage. Once again, this is 5-6 years later then the Atari 800. I mean I think the original IBM PC only had 64k on the MB and still had a cassette interface! I have one in my basement with a history. Guy who I got it from was a long time IBM employee who did their scanners for grocery store checkouts. I should see if it still boots!

PCJr was a stripped down PC (no DMA, wireless keyboard only, 128K RAM max without expansion slot). They originally sold it with a chicklet keyboard, but eventually created a cheap copy of the PC keyboard for those who wanted the real look. It was still a POS. The PCJr is just what you'd expect from a company who made big iron, looked at the home computer market, and said "How hard can it be?" They created a system built with more plastic than the business computers, yet still somehow built like a tank. Unfortunately to properly build it out you still had to spend close to business computer money, and you got a computer with marginally better graphics and sound (though if I read the schematics right, you had to connect the sound output to a speaker system since the TI sound doesn't go to the internal speaker), memory constraints, and slower hardware despite the same clock speed.

 

Tandy introduced a computer that had the graphics and sound of the PCJr, but the full hardware specs of the PC. Definite improvement, and it's easy to see why it left Jr in the dust.

 

Yeah, IBM's very first desktop offering only had space on the MB for 64KB. Apparently it was intended for the schools, but Apple IIe was already ubiquitous there and nobody cared. The model I had could fit 256K on the mainboard. It also had 2 360K floppy drives. The hardware also supported cassette, but I doubt there were many people who bought a PC without a floppy drive. And yeah, the CGA had composite output. I used it on occasion for some of the games that took advantage of composite mode.

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So are they accomplishing all the multi-colored wizardry in that demo by artifact colors over the composite video connector? How many people actually used their IBM PCs in that way? I never saw a configuration like that BITD.

 

(to clarify: I think artifacting is a totally legit way to create color graphics, I just question how useful/important this truly was amongst IBM PC users of the day).

https://int10h.org/blog/2015/04/cga-in-1024-colors-new-mode-illustrated/

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So are they accomplishing all the multi-colored wizardry in that demo by artifact colors over the composite video connector? How many people actually used their IBM PCs in that way? I never saw a configuration like that BITD.

 

No, not many people used their PC's in that way. That was not the intended market.

 

But the point is, you *could* have. I've posted three times now about all the games that were made that supported this mode - just click the link I posted earlier. There were a lot! So to say the PC was *incapable* of this level of performance has always been wrong. It was more capable graphically than any other system on the market in 1981. It was *not* more capable in audio, and I would never argue otherwise. But it was a graphical powerhouse. No other computer that I can think of in 1981 could produce graphics at 640x200 with 16 colors at frame rates like the PC could. (Just for the record, I have an original PC and just recently tried a bunch of games in composite mode on it, so I'm saying this from recent experience.) And it could *also* do digital video (which is what CGA was), which I don't think any other computer could do either. CGA had the nasty 4 color palette that the PC is more known for, but digital CGA was never intended for games - it was intended for sharp, 80 column text with more pleasing fonts than the single pixel-width stuff the Apple II and other computers of the era could do. But gaming is what the composite mode was for... if somebody bought a PC to play games on, which not many people did, so not many people seem to even know about it today.

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I learned 2 months ago from Scali that the original CGA card by IBM had composite video output to connect to TV.

This is true. At one point, I gained an original IBM PC that my collage gave away. The only thing that allowed me to use it was that composite port. I didn't have a CGA-compatible monitor

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I actually liked the movie a lot, very nice demo and impressive to see this on such old PC. I must say that it also made me appreciate my atari 8bit computers even more. Atari 8bit has demos that look and sound so much better. It is great to see old equipment do all kind of amazing things. Sometimes I wished I could travel back in time and show people back then what their computers are actually capable to. Imagine, what we would have today when people in the 80's could learn from the coding skills from today wizards?

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No, not many people used their PC's in that way. That was not the intended market.

 

But the point is, you *could* have. I've posted three times now about all the games that were made that supported this mode - just click the link I posted earlier. There were a lot!

 

Which surprises the heck out of me. I must say I have a newfound respect for the original PC with CGA, but I'm surprised that game publishers supported composite colors in their games when IBM didn't even sell a composite monitor (at least to my knowledge). Every PC I ever saw equipped with CGA graphics also had the standard IBM digital RGB monitor. There couldn't have been many PCs out there that could display these games in the composite color palette.

 

Really, IBM should have marketed a composite monitor for use with the CGA; it would really have addressed the market for entertainment. But I guess IBM wasn't that kind of company.

Edited by FifthPlayer
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Which surprises the heck out of me. I must say I have a newfound respect for the original PC with CGA, but I'm surprised that game publishers supported composite colors in their games when IBM didn't even sell a composite monitor (at least to my knowledge). Every PC I ever saw equipped with CGA graphics also had the standard IBM digital RGB monitor. There couldn't have been many PCs out there that could display these games in the composite color palette.

 

Really, IBM should have marketed a composite monitor for use with the CGA; it would really have addressed the market for entertainment. But I guess IBM wasn't that kind of company.

Why sell a composite monitor? The intent of the composite out is to hook it to a TV. If you're going to buy a monitor, might as well get one that can show 80 columns with the sharp detail it needs.

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Why sell a composite monitor? The intent of the composite out is to hook it to a TV. If you're going to buy a monitor, might as well get one that can show 80 columns with the sharp detail it needs.

 

You have a really good point about connecting it to a TV. But a composite monitor does look better than a TV set, it's better for games than a digital monitor, and IBM would have been able to sell a complete system package for entertainment use. But again, it was the dawn of the personal computer age, and "Business" is literally IBM's middle name.

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You have a really good point about connecting it to a TV. But a composite monitor does look better than a TV set, it's better for games than a digital monitor, and IBM would have been able to sell a complete system package for entertainment use. But again, it was the dawn of the personal computer age, and "Business" is literally IBM's middle name.

There is also the technical issue related to composite video. The luminance signal seems to have enough bandwidth to do 80 columns, so you can do black/white mode with some success. But the color signal has much less bandwidth, so color text will bleed badly. The designers of the original color television (and its signal) did not have sharp text in mind when they created the standard. I recall an episode of 8BitGuy who showed this in action on his Commodore monitor.

 

But yeah, the average family did not expect to lug that clunky metal monster in front of the TV just to use the spreadsheet. A small monitor would be nice, but then there were already monitors from the family computer companies that would have worked.

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(...) Atari 8bit has demos that look and sound so much better. (...)

 

Not that my appreciation for our Atari legacy has changed a single bit whatsoever, but... really?

 

I'll tell you what: please, point me to (any) Atari demo that looks and flows like the inverted parallax scene (with the DeLorean moving up differentially with respect the building's down-scrolling facade)... That, and the wavy-wall are my two favorite (animated) scenes on the PC demo...

 

I would like to see something like that running on the Atari (and I must say I have seen GREAT stuff on the A8!)

Edited by Faicuai
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